School tax breaks and refunds

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school-tax-breaksSending a child to school is an expensive business, even if they go to a public school – there’s the uniform, the bags, the stationery, the shoes and so on.

State and Federal governments recognise that school and going back to school at the beginning of the year can be an expensive time for parents and have some refunds and payments in place. Here are a few.

Schoolkids Bonus (Commonwealth)

In the 2012 Budget the Australian Government announced that the Education Tax Refund (ETR) would be replaced by a new payment called the Schoolkids Bonus to help families with the costs of education. The simplified system means there’s no need to collect receipts or claim it through your tax.

Starting from 1 January 2013, the Schoolkids Bonus will help pay for expenses such as uniforms, books, school excursions, stationery and other costs including music lessons and sports registration fees.

Eligible families will be paid the bonus automatically in January and July.

Each year, eligible families and students will receive:

  • $410 a year for each primary student ($205 paid in January and $205 paid in July)
  • $820 a year for each secondary student in ($410 paid in January and $410 paid in July).

The first payment ($205 for a primary student and $410 for a secondary student) will be made by Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, directly into your bank account, in January 2013.

Your child must be undertaking primary or secondary studies and under 20 years of age to be eligible for the Schoolkids Bonus.

If you are a student, you must be undertaking primary or secondary studies and under 20 years of age to be eligible.

To receive the Schoolkids Bonus, you or your child must be receiving one of the following payments on the test date (either 1 January or 30 June):

Centrelink payments

Department of Veterans’ Affairs payments

To receive the correct Schoolkids Bonus payment in January 2013, Centrelink customers must check and update their details by 31 December 2012 if:

  • you are or your child is starting primary school or secondary school in 2013.
  • your child’s care arrangements or any other details have changed.
  • you are or your child is finishing secondary study in 2012.

You can update your details through Centrelink Online Services.

If none of the above applies to you, but you or your children are in primary or secondary school and you are eligible for Schoolkids Bonus, it will be paid to you automatically without the need to contact Centrelink.

Find out more about the Schoolkids Bonus and your eligibility here.

Assistance for isolated children (Commonwealth)

The Assistance for Isolated Children (AIC) Scheme assists families with the extra costs associated with educating their children.

If you have a primary or secondary student who cannot go to an appropriate state school because of geographical isolation, disability or a special health need, the Assistance for Isolated Children may help you.

The scheme also helps families that are isolated from an appropriate state school where the school-aged student is undertaking a tertiary course instead.

For more information on what isolated families can receive, head to the Assistance For Isolated Children page at the Australian Government’s Department of Human Services website.

Textbook and resource allowance (Queensland only)

The Queensland Government provides financial assistance to parents of secondary school students attending state and approved non-state schools to contribute towards the cost of textbooks and learning resources.

All payments for the allowance are made to schools through a bulk payment from the government. In consultation with school communities, schools may choose to distribute the funds through operating textbook hiring schemes, individual payments to parents, or a combination of both schemes.

The allowance is paid annually with the rates per student in 2013 are $112 for Years 8 to 10 and $245 for Years 11 and 12.

For more information visit the Queensland Government’s Department of Education and Training website.

Education Maintenance Allowance (Victoria only)

This an allowance for low-income families with school-age children.

In 2013 Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) payments to eligible families are:

  • $200 for parents of eligible Prep students.
  • $150 for parents of all other eligible primary school students.
  • $300 for parents of eligible Year 7 students.
  • $250 for parents of all other eligible secondary school students up to the age of 16.

For more information on the Education Maintenance Allowance and to find out more about your eligibility, head to the Victorian Government website.

The School Card Scheme (SA only)

SA’s government-run School Card Scheme provides financial assistance towards the educational expenses incurred by lower-income families at government and non-government schools and who meet the eligibility criteria. Families are eligible of they have:

•    a child or children from four years of age attending school full time.
•    independent full-time students undertaking six subjects in years 10 or 11 or five subjects in year 12.
•    a gross income being within the School Card income limits for the number of dependent children.

To learn more and to check your family’s eligibility, head to the South Australian Government website’sinformation page.

Secondary Assistance Scheme (WA only)

The Secondary Assistance Scheme is available to secondary students whose parents hold Centrelink Family Health Care or Pensioner Concession Cards or Veterans’ Affairs Pensioner Concession Cards.

There are two parts of the scheme – a uniform allowance of up to $115 and an Educational Program Allowance of up to $235 for public school students which is sent to the school to go towards their voluntary contribution.

For more information, head to the WA Department of Education website.

Student Assistance Scheme (Tasmania only)

The scheme provides assistance for low-income families towards the cost of levies for students enrolled from kindergarten through to senior secondary level attending Government or registered Non-Government schools or colleges.

This scheme, which is means-tested, was recently expanded to include grandparents raising their grandchildren.

For more information go to the Tasmanian Government’s Department of Education website.

Public transport concessions state-by state

Each state has its own way of subsidising student travel on public transport. Some are completely free while others have a small fee involved. Here’s a brief rundown on what each state provides, although these can change from year to year so it’s worth checking at the websites provided here.

NSW
Its School Student Transport Scheme provides free transport Monday to Friday for all primary students who are NSW residents and aged over four years and six months of age or older. It has some restrictions on distance travelled according to age and is eligible by a special pass which must be applied for through the school.

There’s more information at the Transport for NSW website.

Victoria
All students 16 years and under are entitled to a “child myki” card and concessionary rates of travel.

Head over to the myki website to find all the details you need.

Queensland
A 50 percent concession is offered here for children aged 5-14 years (inclusive) who are full-time Queensland primary school students.

Go to Queensland’s Transport and Main Roads website for more information.

SA
Visit Adelaide Metro to find out the latest on fare discounts and conditions for SA primary students.

Tasmania
Students are required to carry a Student Buss Pass which allows free travel for two one-way trips per day on government-funded, fare-charging bus services between home (or boarding residence) and school.

Visit the Tasmanian Transport website for more details.

WA
Offers Student SmartRider cards which enable students to purchase 50c tickets on public transport.

NT
All students attending primary school (including transition) through to university (studying part-time or full-time) can travel for free seven days a week on all scheduled services on the NT’s existing school and public bus network.

Find out all the details at the Northern Territory Government’s Public Transport page.

Tasmania
Children under 16 years of age are eligible to travel at student/child fares as long as a Metro-approved student ID card is presented when purchasing the ticket.

Find out all the details at the MetroTas website.

Read more about education tax breaks and saving money on back to school:

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Categories: AbStudy, Assistance for Isolated Children, Carers' Payment, Disability Support Pension, Education Maintenance Allowance (Victoria only), Family Assistance, Family Tax Benefit Part A, Parenting Support Payments, School Card Scheme (SA only), SchoolKids bonus, Secondary Assistance Scheme (WA only), Special Benefit, Student Assistance Scheme (Tasmania only), Textbook and resource allowance, Youth Allowance
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